NHL Tuesday best bets: Higher seeds to cruise at home in Game 1

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

The second round of the playoffs begins Tuesday with a pair of fun series. We have The Battle of Florida and a postseason rematch between Central Division rivals.

Let's look at where the value lies on the opening night of the second round.

Lightning (+135) @ Panthers (-160)

The Florida Panthers weren't overly convincing in their first-round series against the Washington Capitals. Even so, I think they're going to eliminate the Tampa Bay Lightning, and that starts with a win Tuesday.

Each team picked up a pair of wins in the season series, but the Panthers were the more impressive side. They won by four goals on aggregate and outchanced the Lightning in three of the four games.

I think they have more firepower and depth than the Lightning, especially with perennial playoff beast Brayden Point out of the lineup.

The Panthers enter this game as the more rested side after pulling through in six, while the Lightning had to grind through a grueling Game 7 in Toronto. Wear and tear could play a role.

Home-ice advantage should also be a big boost for the Panthers. They led the league with 34 wins in 41 tries on home ice and many of their players - like Jonathan Huberdeau - were much more dynamic when being placed in favorable positions at home.

Barring an Andrei Vasilevskiy masterpiece, which is always on the table, I expect the Panthers to come out and set the tone with a relatively clean win to kick things off.

Look for Florida to put its best foot forward and take advantage of the Point-less Lightning.

Bet: Panthers in regulation (-105)

Blues (+170) @ Avalanche (-205)

The St. Louis Blues are a pesky team. Their underlying numbers have left much to be desired all season long, as far as quality playoff teams go. However, at this point, it's fair to say they have the firepower to outscore what's expected of them on a pretty frequent basis.

I don't think they'll roll over and get swept by the Colorado Avalanche like a season ago. There should be more fight, but the end result will still likely be the Avs winning the series in no more than six games.

Yes, this Blues team is better than the version we saw a season ago. But the same can be said of the Avalanche, and we saw firsthand against the Nashville Predators how lethal they can be.

I'm not going to cite Colorado's goal numbers. Of course a high-powered team is going to fill the net against a side missing its starting goaltender. Instead, I'll look at the sparkling process that led to the Avs' sweep.

The Avalanche controlled more than 67% of the expected goals across all game situations. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames were the only other first-round teams to finish above 55%.

St. Louis is clearly better than the Predators. However, the Blues' blue line is nothing to write home about - especially without Torey Krug - and the Avalanche have the star power, depth, and insane team speed to take advantage of that each and every night.

Colorado won two of three regular-season games while posting a five-on-five chance share above 63% in each meeting. It's also worth noting the team was rarely at full strength - or all that close - throughout the year.

The Avs are now, though. Expect them to flex their muscles from the get-go with a win inside 60.

Bet: Avalanche in regulation (-135)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

NHL Tuesday best bets: Higher seeds to cruise at home in Game 1
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